Review: Group Exercise at the Payne Center

Here at USM we’re lucky enough to have a free gym. Believe me when I say "lucky;" my gym at my home university costs upwards of $400 for a year’s membership. Not only does this include access to equipment, but it also includes free admission into a comprehensive list of exercise classes. There’s around 6-8 a day during the week, ranging from stretch and strength-based classes to cardio. If you’re anything like me, it can be a lot easier to stay motivated for a full hour or so of exercise if you’re with others and in an instructor so these classes can be a great way to get in shape. But which ones should you choose? Her Campus has sweated it out for you to give you this handy review/guide of some of the most popular classes.


Yoga is a great low-intensity workout. Depending on whose class you take, you’re still likely to sweat to some degree, (especially since it can get very hot in the group exercise rooms) but this can be beneficial for yoga. The key areas of focus are strength, flexibility and relaxation, and it’s often on in the evening making it the perfect way to unwind after a long day of classes. Though it’s not a massive calorie burner, you use the weight of your own body to tone up and build muscle, meaning weight loss becomes easier if you keep at it.


Similar to yoga in some respects, pilates is about core strength and balance. It can feel like more of a workout than yoga as you concentrate more on things like ab exercises which can be tough but feel very rewarding. A power pilates class is available which condenses a one hour class into non-stop action for thirty minutes, it’s tough but it flies by. Another aspect of pilates is the emphasis on spine alignment and doing it regularly can greatly improve your posture making you taller by as much as a good few inches, and appear more graceful and confident.

(A hybrid class of yogilates is also offered which combines both yoga and pilates.)


The dance craze that swept the world a few years ago is still going strong, zumba is a great way to get in some intense cardio without it really feeling like work. The atmosphere is fun and lively as the whole class is set to up-tempo songs many of which you’ll recognize, especially if you’re a Pitbull or Shakira fan. Zumba is definitely a class where you get out what you put in, it’s easy to shuffle along but if you follow the instructor with as much energy and movement as them it can have you out of breath and sweating very quickly. With a lot of energy it’s possible to burn 400-600 calories in a one hour class so it’s well worth the effort.


A hybrid of a dance and kick boxing class, Turbokick offers an intense workout similar to that of Zumba but with the added benefits on your arms and legs  that mixing in combat moves achieves. It lasts 45 minutes, so a little shorter than other classes but it certainly feels like no less of a workout. The upbeat instructor will keep your spirits up, and its great stress relief to imagine those elbows and fists you’re throwing are aimed at the latest stress in your life. This class will certainly have you out-of breath and aching by the end.


Many will have heard of this stationary-bike based exercise class, and if you or a friend have done it you’ll almost certainly have heard about how tough it can be. In spinning, an instructor takes the class through a variety of positions and speeds whilst constantly cycling to simulate the changing terrain of an outdoor ride and to work on different muscles and skills such as endurance or strength. Water and a towel are essential for this class and it’s a big calorie burner if done right. The instructor should be able to keep your spirits up and the music makes it easier, just don’t stop cycling!

There are many more worthwhile classes offered as part of group exercise at the Payne Center, so why not give one of them a try when you next have the chance. They’re fun and a great way to  get fit, because remember, Spring break isn't far away!